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Royal Navy contract

Johnson unveils £1.25bn frigate boost for Scottish shipyard

Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier

Rosyth has been completing work on aircraft carriers

Shipyard workers’ jobs in Scotland and Northern Ireland will be secured by the awarding of a £1.25bn contract to build five frigates for the Royal Navy.

The Rosyth dockyard in Fife will share the work with Harland & Wolff in Belfast which will be thrown a lifeline after falling into administration. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to make a statement today.

It is also expected to provide work for Ferguson Marine Engineering, which is being taken over by the Scottish government after collapsing in August.

A consortium led by defence group Babcock International has secured the work for the Type 31 frigates which will help safeguard 2,500 jobs as part of a pledge by Mr Johnson to restore “British influence and excellence across the world’s oceans”.

It had been expected that Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, would make the announcement at the DSEI arms fair this week, but Downing Street is keen to grab some positive news following a series of negative headlines and setbacks.

Work will commence before the end of this year with the first of at least five ships ready by 2023 as part of a pledge to expand the Royal Navy’s fleet over the next 20 years.

British shipbuilders BAE Systems, Babcock and Atlas Elektronik UK were on the shortlist for the contract to replace Type 23 frigates. 

The Rosyth yard is completing the second of two £6.2bn aircraft carriers, with the Prince of Wales expected to be launched within days.

Speaking ahead of the announcement, Mr Johnson said: “The UK is an outward-looking island nation, and we need a shipbuilding industry and Royal Navy that reflect the importance of the seas to our security and prosperity.

“This is an industry with a deep and visceral connection to so many parts of the UK and to the Union itself.

“My government will do all it can to develop this aspect of our heritage and the men and women who make up its workforce – from apprentices embarking on a long career, to those families who have worked in shipyards for generations.

“I look forward to the restoration of British influence and excellence across the world’s oceans. I am convinced that by working together we will see a renaissance in this industry which is so much part of our island story – so let’s bring shipbuilding home.”

The SNP has accused the UK government of breaking promises made before the 2014 independence referendum by cutting the number of more sophisticated Type 26 frigates to be built by BAE Systems in Glasgow.

Archie Bethel, CEO Babcock said: “Driven by innovation and backed by experience and heritage, Arrowhead 140 is a modern warship that will meet the maritime threats of today and tomorrow, with British ingenuity and engineering at its core. It provides a flexible, adaptable platform that delivers value for money and supports the UK’s National Shipbuilding Strategy.

“Arrowhead 140 will offer the Royal Navy a new class of ship with a proven ability to deliver a range of peacekeeping, humanitarian and warfighting capabilities whilst offering communities and supply chains throughout the UK a wide range of economic and employment opportunities.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “Scotland has a world-renowned reputation for quality shipbuilding and I very much welcome the announcement that Babcock is the preferred bidder to design the MoD’s new Type 31e frigates.

“The Type 26 programme has already secured 4,000 Scottish jobs and 20 years of work on the Clyde and I’m looking forward to Babcock – including its key Rosyth yard – keeping Scotland at the forefront of a renaissance in UK shipbuilding.

“This is a clear show of support for the UK defence sector, the role it plays in keeping the United Kingdom secure, and its contribution to Scotland’s prosperity through high-skilled employment and investment.” 

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